POV Writing Challenge: Week 1, Sample 1

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Hot on the heals of NaNoWriMo and determined to keep the energy flowing, a group of writers and I have decided to take up a 4-week writing challenge. After a month of spewing words out as fast as possible, we are taking a step back and focusing on craft, specifically looking at point of view through flash fiction. If you are interested in how the challenge works and want to follow along, check out the details here.

 


 

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© Katie Rene Johnson 2016

 

Cara’s feet ached. Miles in the city tallied up quickly, and despite her month of preparation, she regretted the decision to cross the bridge after a day of exploring. The inherent stubbornness kicked in the moment she stepped foot on the first plank, and she wouldn’t turn back until she had made it all the way across. But then I have to come back.

Sighing, she hitched her satchel up on her shoulder and moved on. Pain twinged in her left heel and her shoulder ached under the weight of half a dozen notebooks and her roll of charcoal pencils. Cara never went out for the day without them. Her obsession with notebooks, pens and pencils bordered on the edge of crazy cat lady, minus the fur balls. Tomorrow, I am picking one. The rest can stay home. She smiled to herself, tracing a finger along the smooth metal railing as she walked.

“On your left!” a voice snapped from behind her, and Cara jumped aside. A man in a business suit rushed past her on a bicycle, the flap of his leather bag flapping behind him. Well excuse me! Cara’s heart raced and she gripped the railing with both hands, grounding herself in its solidity. People in the city moved to fast for her country girl roots. She hadn’t even made it to the first of the two towers on the bridge before she had been nearly flattened. I don’t know if the city and I are going to get along. Readjusting her satchel, she slipped back into the pedestrian flow of traffic.

Cara had picked the bridge as the best vantage point for her first drawing. She wanted to start broad and narrow her focus over the next two days in the city. Now, she wasn’t sure she would be able to pull if off without getting run over. At least if she found a good place to stop, her feet might not hurt as bad when she started walking again.

Bike bells chimed and angry yells joined the blur of car horns stopped in the rush hour traffic below as the walkway congested. Someone bumped into Cara’s shoulder and she glanced back. She couldn’t tell who had bumped her and she let herself be pushed along in the throng of impatient travelers. For no reason at all, the line loosened up again, and Cara stepped off to the side, using an empty bench as a shield.

Then, for the first time since she stepped onto the bridge, she looked back at the city. The setting sun had turned it into a back lit silhouette of rectangles, square and triangles bunched together in one geometrical shadow.

A couple stopped at the opposite corner of the bench to snap a selfie with the city in the background. Cara cringed. How many people had stopped at this bench to take in the same exact view? It doesn’t matter. I just have to make the image my own. She set set her satchel on the bench and sifted through her notebooks. Black cover, blue cover, marble cover. Her fingers fell across a plain cardboard cover. Decided, she reached past it to her pencil roll and pulled the them out together.

Biting her bottom lift, Cara plucked her favorite pencil from the case without unrolling it and dropped the case back in her bag for safe keeping. Chewing on the end of her pencil, she looked back at the city. Her drawings always started at the bottom of the page, but here it was only shadow. I could pull in the riverbank. Texture the buildings. No. Outline them. A line sketch. Cara frowned. Lines aren’t enough. Turning her back on the city, leaned into the barrier. Maybe lines are everything. The support cables of the bridge checkered the fading sky, dividing the distant skyline like stained glass. Half way up one of the vertical cables, three balloons had tangled themselves into the hard lines, breaking up the rigidity of the scene.

That’s it! Cara plopped down onto the bench, tucking her satchel between her knees and wrapping the strap around her ankle. With a satisfied smile, she flipped open the sketchbook and lowered her pencil to the page.

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4 comments

  1. This is 3rd limited and the 19-year-old girl/art major. I know this because she talks about drawing and her thoughts are in italics.

    You did a good job with this exercise, but the other thing you had stated you wanted to work on was making your writing more active. I’m a skimmer. I don’t read every word. Shane does that. So, I found myself skimming a lot through this passage.

    This is flash fiction. You don’t need a complete scene. There’s a lot of stuff that you could have taken out and shown a bit more actively that could have made this piece more engaging.

    I was tentatively hooked in the opening paragraph, but my attention waned toward the end.

    I skipped the second paragraph on the first read-through.

    You had me again with the bicyclist, but then lost me again as soon as he went by. So, that was quick.

    I skimmed until the bike bells, but the sounds were so general, my brain did the, “Well, I’ve heard that. Adding loud city sounds.” I pushed a button in my brain, and then heard the city soundtrack, and skipped the rest of the paragraph.

    I skim-skim-skimmed. And I was done with, “That’s it!”

    The artist is a visual person. She sees before she hears or feels. In this piece, I found no colors. I found no lighting. I found no textures. I didn’t find anything that would drive an artist to ART.

    You buried the visual of the sun with her turning. She’s an artist, so her concentration should be on sights and visuals. Those visuals should be punches in your writing. Those visuals should be the thing that POPs like popcorn in your story. Use your POV method to showcase that, but make sure that the visuals aren’t buried by thoughts and emotions. This was more of a kenetic writing. Visuals are hard for kenetic people.

    But! The writing is good! It was very pleasant on the second read-through.

    Like

  2. it was the art major, architect. Bag me, but iI thought it was closer to 3rd deep. but what Franks said is probably right- not enough visuals, but I have a big lack there too. Hopefully, I can get it…

    Like

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